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FACT CHECK: Marcos’ EO 57 not a declaration of war on China


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FACT CHECK: Marcos’ EO 57 not a declaration of war on China
The signing by President Marcos of Executive Order No. 57 aims to strengthen maritime security in the Philippines and is not intended as an aggressive action against China

Claim: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed an order declaring war on China over its continuing hostility in the West Philippine Sea.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in the title of a YouTube video posted on April 1, which has gained 57,712 views, 1,400 likes, and 2,545 comments as of writing.

The video’s title reads: Nagulat ang China! PBBM pirmado na utos! Nagdeklara ng gyera? Uunahin na Chinese ambassador ng China” (China was surprised! President BBM has signed an order! Declaring war? China’s ambassador will be first.)

The bottom line:  There are no reports or official announcements of the Philippines supposedly declaring war on China.

The video’s narrator implies that Marcos’ Executive Order (EO) No. 57 signals aggression or even war. The EO aims to strengthen maritime security amid China’s continued bullying in the West Philippine Sea, but it is not a declaration of war. (READ: Marcos vows countermeasures vs China’s ‘dangerous attacks’)

“Strengthening the country’s maritime security and domain awareness is imperative to comprehensively tackle the crosscutting issues that impact the nation’s national security, sovereignty, sovereign rights, and maritime jurisdiction over its extensive maritime zones,” the EO read. 

Bolstering maritime security: Released by the Presidential Communications Office on March 31, the order reorganizes several agencies involved in upholding the Philippines’ maritime security.

The National Coast Watch Council was renamed and reorganized into the National Maritime Council, which will be chaired by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin. It will be the “central body in-charge of formulating policies and strategies to ensure a unified, coordinated and effective governance framework for the country’s maritime security and domain awareness.”

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea is attached to the council.

This development follows an incident on March 23, where the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) used water cannons against Philippine resupply vessel Unaizah May 4 en route to a military outpost in Ayungin Shoal. According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the boat sustained heavy damages “due to the continued blasting of water cannons from the CCG vessels.”

Tensions between the Philippines and China have flared in recent months, as Beijing continues to reject a 2016 arbitral ruling striking down its expansive claims over the South China Sea. Andrei Santos/Rappler.com

Andrei Santos is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

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